Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ballard Cheers for Charter Schools

Mayor Greg Ballard today put out a Facebook update which praised the basketball Indianapolis Metropolitan Pumas for being the "First charter school ever to go to the finals." He's wrong. Indy Met is the second charter school to go to the Class A State Finals. The first was last year's Class A Champ, Bowman Academy.

Did I mention Indy Met was actually chartered by Bart Peterson?

Let me join the Mayor in congratulating the Pumas on making it to the finals. I, in no way, mean to diminish the work and effort that these young people put in to reach this level. The Pumas don't have a home gym, and I realize that. Please don't misunderstand me when I say this.

The thing is that at no point, to my knowledge, has Mayor Ballard ever congratulated a traditional public school for making a title game in this manner on Facebook since I've been a follower. Also, the Mayor should know that when the graduation rates for the class of 2010 were calculated, the rate for African-Americans at Indy Met was 56.5 percent. By contrast, Pike High School had a graduation rate of 89.5 percent. Ben Davis was at 86.3 percent. Speedway, which has a much smaller cohort group, had a 100 percent graduation rate.

The only charters, in fact, to come close to those numbers were Tindley and Herron, and neither were close to what Speedway or Pike have done, and only Herron rivaled (but not surpassed) Ben Davis. Met was at the bottom of the heap. Nonetheless, Ballard gave Indy Met a full seven year stamp of approval.

Maybe Mayor Ballard is starting a new trend. Next time a public school team from Marion County is involved in a contest like this, I expect to see him tout the accomplishment from his official Mayor Ballard Facebook account.

And...good luck to the Pumas!


Paul K. Ogden said...

The problem with your numbers is that charter schools generally get failing students from the traditional public schools and those students do a lot better. However, they start from way down at the bottom. So of course, their graduation rates are lower...they're playing catchup.

When you measure IMPROVEMENT, charter schools do exceptionally well.

Jon E. Easter said...

That is a really good try there Paul. The graduation rate is figured on a four year cohort. That means that of the students that stay at Pike or Ben Davis over 85 percent of them graduate if they are African-American. We had a record class, for example, at Ben Davis last year and a graduation rate over 80 percent.

That means that a four year graduation rate for Indy Metro was 56 percent.

Schools can't really mess with the graduation rate anymore. It is what it is.

Jon E. Easter said...

And by the way, I have the Stanford study and have looked at it. The story it tells about special education students and certain minority students in charter schools has been obscured by the mainstream reports.

Curious east-sider said...

Throughout the debate over vouchers, one question keeps entering my mind: what happens when an athiest / muslim / jewish / catholic / methodist student transfers into a private school based in a different religion using public funds and then demands the ability to exercise their faith at school? Or at least demands that he or she can't be forced to observe the religion of the school leaders? Wouldnt public dollars afford children tje sam protections and freedoms at a private school as they did in public school? I am sure this topic has been discussed, i just havent really heard how such a dilemma would be handled.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I'm not sure what you're saying. You do realize that when the student who enrolls in a charter school is on average a student who has underperformed in a traditional public school. Most of these charter schools have been around for a just a few years, less than four years.

Surely you don't dispute that students enrolled in charter schools make much greater improvement than they do in traditional public schools.

You're comparing apples to oranges.

Does anyone care said...

Great facts on school graduation rates. IPS has a 4 year graduation rate of 49%, which is much lower than the reported rate of Indy Met! When did we start beating up on charters and refuse to look at the elephant (IPS) in the room

allison said...

Actually charter schools typically attract a stronger student than the typical public school does and charters are able to decline admission to English Language learners and students with disabilities. Additionally, charters require an application. Many parents in disadvantaged areas simply are not educated on the options that their children have.